It does not look like the PGA Tour I used to know. When we had something big that might happen, players meetings were always held with transparency to inform members of the details and then vote on it to at least let the committee or policy board know what the players thought about it. That is not what has been happening.
This new arrangement between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) that has transpired recently as a result of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf chaos the past year now has a more immoral look to it due to who put it together–Jimmy Dunne. All the negotiations were conducted in secret by board members. The membership was not informed about what was happening until Commissioner Jay Monahan announced the deal on June 6th to the great surprise and anger of the membership. It was a 180 degree about face since the two organizations were locked in a bitter feud with lawsuits against each other. It still remains to be seen if it will really happen. Both the federal government and Congress are now involved with investigations and hearings about it and more.
Jimmy Dunne is a Wall Street tycoon famous for creating acquisitions and mergers between big corporations. In 1988, he left Bear Sterns and co-founded the financial firm Sandler O’Neill and Partners, which became a powerhouse.
The sixty-five year old Dunne has been a pretty good amateur golfer. Last year, PGA Tour Policy Board Chairman Ed Herlihy invited Jimmy Dunne, who was good friend of player-board member Rory McIlroy, to become a member of the board, which Dunne accepted. As an A&M expert, Dunne then became involved in the squabble between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf and brokered this new agreement between the former enemies.
In 2001, Dunne’s company–Sandler O’Neill, which became Sandler Piper in 2020–had its corporate offices on all of the 104th floor of one of the World Trade Twin Towers on Manhattan Island that came crashing down on 9/11. Over twenty years later, there are still many pending lawsuits in U.S. courts against the government of Saudi Arabia as an alleged culprit in financing one of more of the 19 operatives that accomplished the Al Qaeda attack of the U. S. on 9/11 that killed about 3,000 people. It was, and still is, the worst attack on U.S. soil in its history of nearly 250 years as a nation.
On that day, September 11, 2001, Dunne teed off in the morning at a Westchester golf club ten miles from Manhattan to attempt an 18-hole qualifier for the Mid-Amateur Championship, one of the premier events in U.S. amateur golf. Well into his front nine, someone hurried onto the golf course to inform Dunne that an airplane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers where his offices were located. Of course, both towers soon came crashing to the ground. Jimmy’s company, Sandler O’Neill, lost 66 of its 83 headquarters employees that day in that catastrophe. Only fate kept Dunne from being one of them. He was scheduled to qualify for the Mid-Amateur a day earlier.
When Dunne was questioned days ago about the morality of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf agreement that he fashioned, he said if he knew any of the people who were responsible for the 9/11 catastrophe that he would “kill” them himself. I thought that a strange and extraordinarily angry remark for such an elite businessman since we Americans are a people who believe in a law-abiding democracy that does not allow for individuals to undertake such revenge, but allow our court system to prevail. However, I didn’t know about Dunne’s company suffering such a 9/11 tragedy. He says many of those killed employees were very good friends of his. Then, how did he change to broker this deal?
It appears that Jimmy Dunne will suffer some serious ridicule from a lot of Americans, especially families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 calamity and perhaps some of those former Sandler O’Neill families. This is just more of a morally bad look for the PGA Tour in this unfortunate and unprecedented upheaval to American professional golf.